Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide

UK PR Week, in conjunction with Diffusion PR, last month released a report on the integration of digital into the PR mix, titled PRWeek/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide. I missed the report when it came out, but have now reviewed and think the findings are worth sharing.

Having worked in both the UK and Australia I believe the markets are fairly similar in the way organisations approach PR and marketing. Of course the budgets here in Australia are much smaller, but generally the way PR is done in the UK and here is similar, so the report and its findings I believe are also relevant for Australia.

Report methodology:

According to PR Week:

a landmark PRWeek survey of 128 clients, drawn from across in-house comms, marketing and digital departments, reveals exactly how organisations are grappling with the challenge of integrating social media into their existing operations.

Key report findings:

To what extent have you embraced social media and digital PR?

to what extend have you embraced social media Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide

To what extent have you embraced social media and digital PR?

Findings - more than 60% of those surveyed stated that social media and digital PR is being used either as an element of most campaigns or a core part of comms strategy. However, roughly 40% use it on an ad hoc basis or not at all.

My view – this result was not surprising for me based on the work I do with my clients. However, I would argue it is those organisations that have integrated social media and digital PR as a core component of their work that are getting the best results. Like any marketing discipline, social media digital PR works best when it is a continuous program, not something that is turned on and off.

With which external agencies do you work on social media?

which external agencies do you work on with social media Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide

With which external agencies do you work on social media?

Findings - 43% do not use an agency, 39% use a PR agency, 29% a digital agency whilst only 8% use a dedicated social media agency.

My view – I was surprised to see such a high number of practitioners responding that responsibility for social media was managed solely inhouse. Not that I am suggesting those inhouse are not suited to social media, quite the contrary in many respects. To me this highlights an unwillingness by client organisations to adequately invest in external social media expertise.

In the traditional space even the best in-house marketing practitioners utilise the support of agencies to deliver their results, why should it be different for social media? Assuming the agency gets it, I think in-house marketing people should be investing a good portion of their budget to extend activities in the social media space (disclaimer – I lead a team of digital PR people at a PR agency).

Where does ownership of social media sit within your organisation?

who owns social media in your organisation Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide

Who owns social media in your organisation?

Findings – 36% marketing team, 34% PR and comms team, 17% cross departmental responsibility, 7% yet to be decided, 3% dedicated social media team, 2% IT department

My view – social media is about engaging in a two way conversation with an organisation’s customers and public. Whilst there are multiple departments that talk to an organisation’s target market, there has traditionally only been one that has engaged in a two way dialogue – the communications department. As such, it is my belief that the communications department/PR team is best placed to develop strategy and lead direction for social media.

What do you see as the key barriers preventing social media adoption in your organisation?

barriers to social media adoption Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide

What do you see as the key barriers to social media adoption within your organisation?

Findings – 45% inability to demonstrate clear ROI, 40% lack of digital knowledge and understanding, 38% lack of resources and budgets

My view – it is not surprising to me that the top two barriers are a lack of clear ROI and a lack of digital knowledge. When people don’t understand something they typically won’t find a value in it. Fix the lack of education and the clear ROI barrier will be lowered, as will the barrier of budget and lack of resources.

How satisfied are you with your current lead agency’s social media and digital PR abilities?

how satisfied are you with your lead pr agency Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Divide

How satisfied are you with your lead PR agency's social media capabilities?

Findings – 19% very satisfied, 32% moderately satisfied, 15% very or moderately dissatisfied, 34% unsure.

My view – these results should be concerning for PR agencies. To me it highlights the fact that there are some, but too few PR practitioners with digital PR skills. Everyone involved in PR should be educating themselves in digital PR and agencies should be investing to ensure everyone has a basic understanding.

I have posted below some more graphics from the report.

What do you think about the report’s findings, are they surprising? Do you agree with my opinions? I would love to hear from you in the comment box.

digintrep1web Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital Dividedigintrep2web 2 Thoughts on the PR Week/Diffusion Digital Integration Report: The Digital DivideIf you enjoyed this post why not subscribe to my blog via RSS or email by following this link. Also whilst you’re at it why not follow me on Twitter .

  • http://jyesmith.com Jye Smith

    Great post, Matt. Very comprehensive.

  • Arun Sudhaman

    Thanks for this analysis Matt. Think the research certainly helps drive forward understanding of how clients are approaching and investing in digital.

  • matthewgain

    Thanks Jye and Arun – certainly a lot to think about out of this research.

    Great report Arun.

  • http://www.twitter.com/pruerobson Prue Robson

    Fantastic post, Matt. I think this report highlights both positives and negatives for the PR industry.

    For me, the key question is how closely does this relate to the Australian experience. A 2008 study of Australian practitioners found that while they were familiar with social media, they were largely not using it as it was considered not relevant to target stakeholders, and they lacked the education and resources to do so (1). While, I know a lot has changed in social media + PR over the last two years, it would be interesting to see a similar study conducted in Australia circa 2010.

    My thesis will touch on this, but it's focused on non-capital city practitioners, and I expect will show a much, much lower level of social media integration than the PR Week report.

    1.de Bussy, N.M. & Wolf, K. 2009. 'The state of Australian public relations: Professionalism and paradox', Public Relations Review, vol. 35, pp. 376-381.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhys_STK Rhys

    Slightly concerning to see the level of dissatisfaction with the social media capabilities of agencies.

    From my experience of agencies in London, a significant number still seem to be offering digital services without the personnel or skills to carry it out. An example might be promising to send out SMNRs in support of annoncements, with little idea of how or to whom to send it. Or why.

    Quite often the agencies are able to ‘get away with it’ because the client does not have the experience to manage the digital side of the campaign.

    But I wonder if in the medium term this is harming the take up of social media more widely: too many agencies offering ill-thought out digital services with poor ROI?

    • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

      I agree Rhys. I think ill thought-out digital campaigns that generate poor results are hurting the sector.

      Though there is enough good work being done though that organisations will recognise the value and simply go to those agencies practitioners that can deliver the results.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhys_STK Rhys

    Slightly concerning to see the level of dissatisfaction with the social media capabilities of agencies. From my experience of agencies in London, a significant number still seem to be offering digital services without the personnel or skills to carry it out. An example might be promising to send out SMNRs in support of annoncements, with little idea of how or to whom to send it. Or why.Quite often the agencies are able to 'get away with it' because the client does not have the experience to manage the digital side of the campaign. But I wonder if in the medium term this is harming the take up of social media more widely: too many agencies offering ill-thought out digital services with poor ROI?

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    I agree Rhys. I think ill thought-out digital campaigns that generate poor results are hurting the sector. Though there is enough good work being done though that organisations will recognise the value and simply go to those agencies practitioners that can deliver the results.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Thanks for your comments Prue. The UK is probably a little head of us here in Aus on this, but not an enormous amount. Working in the UK in 2008 there was a lot of activity being undertaken with no digital component. That is definitely not the case in Aus now and likewise in the UK. Thus I don't think we would see dramatic difference if the study was conducted here.Regarding regional centres, I think you're right that there will be a lower level of use. Ironic in many ways because it is those in remote locations that could potentially benefit the most.Oh and I love the citation – never had a properly referenced comment before! :-)Speak soon.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    I published this post on my Posterous page as well (matthewgain.posterous.com), and thought I would share an interesting comment posted there by David Park (http://posterous.com/people/4avBkRU2XkGt) and my reply.

    David Park said…
    MG: really interesting post for corporate affairs execs. Overall, what is your take on how corporate affairs’ functions are taking to this? I suspect the real reasoning behind ROI concerns may actually be more about concern for getting too involved in “the conversation” – command and control does not let go easily. And perhaps part of their concern reflects their legal department’s hand wringing at the very thought of employees chatting so freely. Thanks for the post.
    David Park | parkyoung | http://www.parkyoung.com.au/
    Remove comment

    Matthew Gain said…
    David – thanks for your post and apologies it has taken me so long to get back to you.
    It is a really good question that you have pose.

    In my experience corporate affairs within consumer facing organisations are getting their head around it and are opening up, despite in most cases limiting the ability to ‘chat freely’ to a small group of trusted marketing/comms folk. In the B2B, Pharma (especially the pharma) and financial sector, however, there has been more push back.

    I think the push back is brought about less by concern of losing control and more about lack of experience and fear.

    Based on my discussions, there is a realisation by just about all corporate affairs people that the world has changed and they need to adapt. However, in most cases they are not equipped to lead this adaption and that is concerning for them.

    I think the same is true for legal departments.

    Ultimately I think both groups want to embrace social and can understand the benefits, that is not the issue. The issue is they don’t understand how to integrate and lead it. They don’t have a benchmark to score it against, they are nervous that they cannot guarantee there won’t be problems and most importantly they have no experience in the space.

    I believe there is an opportunity in the education space. There are tonnes of very clever people that understand and speak eloquently on social media and its benefits. Though precious few of these people have experience also running the corporate affairs department of a large organisation.

    Perhaps this is where you come in David? :-)

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    I published this post on my Posterous page as well (matthewgain.posterous.com), and thought I would share an interesting comment posted there by David Park (http://posterous.com/people/4avBkRU2XkGt) and my reply. David Park said…MG: really interesting post for corporate affairs execs. Overall, what is your take on how corporate affairs' functions are taking to this? I suspect the real reasoning behind ROI concerns may actually be more about concern for getting too involved in "the conversation" – command and control does not let go easily. And perhaps part of their concern reflects their legal department's hand wringing at the very thought of employees chatting so freely. Thanks for the post. David Park | parkyoung | http://www.parkyoung.com.au/Remove comment Matthew Gain said…David – thanks for your post and apologies it has taken me so long to get back to you.It is a really good question that you have pose.In my experience corporate affairs within consumer facing organisations are getting their head around it and are opening up, despite in most cases limiting the ability to 'chat freely' to a small group of trusted marketing/comms folk. In the B2B, Pharma (especially the pharma) and financial sector, however, there has been more push back.I think the push back is brought about less by concern of losing control and more about lack of experience and fear.Based on my discussions, there is a realisation by just about all corporate affairs people that the world has changed and they need to adapt. However, in most cases they are not equipped to lead this adaption and that is concerning for them.I think the same is true for legal departments.Ultimately I think both groups want to embrace social and can understand the benefits, that is not the issue. The issue is they don't understand how to integrate and lead it. They don't have a benchmark to score it against, they are nervous that they cannot guarantee there won't be problems and most importantly they have no experience in the space.I believe there is an opportunity in the education space. There are tonnes of very clever people that understand and speak eloquently on social media and its benefits. Though precious few of these people have experience also running the corporate affairs department of a large organisation.Perhaps this is where you come in David? :-)

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    I agree Rhys. I think ill thought-out digital campaigns that generate poor results are hurting the sector. Though there is enough good work being done though that organisations will recognise the value and simply go to those agencies practitioners that can deliver the results.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Thanks for your comments Prue. The UK is probably a little head of us here in Aus on this, but not an enormous amount. Working in the UK in 2008 there was a lot of activity being undertaken with no digital component. That is definitely not the case in Aus now and likewise in the UK. Thus I don't think we would see dramatic difference if the study was conducted here.Regarding regional centres, I think you're right that there will be a lower level of use. Ironic in many ways because it is those in remote locations that could potentially benefit the most.Oh and I love the citation – never had a properly referenced comment before! :-)Speak soon.

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    I published this post on my Posterous page as well (matthewgain.posterous.com), and thought I would share an interesting comment posted there by David Park (http://posterous.com/people/4avBkRU2XkGt) and my reply. David Park said…MG: really interesting post for corporate affairs execs. Overall, what is your take on how corporate affairs' functions are taking to this? I suspect the real reasoning behind ROI concerns may actually be more about concern for getting too involved in "the conversation" – command and control does not let go easily. And perhaps part of their concern reflects their legal department's hand wringing at the very thought of employees chatting so freely. Thanks for the post. David Park | parkyoung | http://www.parkyoung.com.au/Remove comment Matthew Gain said…David – thanks for your post and apologies it has taken me so long to get back to you.It is a really good question that you have pose.In my experience corporate affairs within consumer facing organisations are getting their head around it and are opening up, despite in most cases limiting the ability to 'chat freely' to a small group of trusted marketing/comms folk. In the B2B, Pharma (especially the pharma) and financial sector, however, there has been more push back.I think the push back is brought about less by concern of losing control and more about lack of experience and fear.Based on my discussions, there is a realisation by just about all corporate affairs people that the world has changed and they need to adapt. However, in most cases they are not equipped to lead this adaption and that is concerning for them.I think the same is true for legal departments.Ultimately I think both groups want to embrace social and can understand the benefits, that is not the issue. The issue is they don't understand how to integrate and lead it. They don't have a benchmark to score it against, they are nervous that they cannot guarantee there won't be problems and most importantly they have no experience in the space.I believe there is an opportunity in the education space. There are tonnes of very clever people that understand and speak eloquently on social media and its benefits. Though precious few of these people have experience also running the corporate affairs department of a large organisation.Perhaps this is where you come in David? :-)

  • http://matthewgain.com Matthew Gain

    Thanks for your comments Prue. The UK is probably a little head of us here in Aus on this, but not an enormous amount.

    Working in the UK in 2008 there was a lot of activity being undertaken with no digital component. That is definitely not the case in Aus now and likewise in the UK. Thus I don’t think we would see dramatic difference if the study was conducted here.

    Regarding regional centres, I think you’re right that there will be a lower level of use. Ironic in many ways because it is those in remote locations that could potentially benefit the most.

    Oh and I love the citation – never had a properly referenced comment before! :-)

    Speak soon.